Sunday, July 19, 2015

High Tech Beer Tracking - There's an App for THAT?

How do you track your brews?
I started this blog as a way to keep track of all the beers I drink. That was the idea anyway. Unfortunately, I'm about as disciplined as a beagle running loose in a butcher shop. (I own a beagle, so trust me, that's the height of undisciplined behavior.) Thus, there's only about 435 actual beer reviews posted here on Beer Guy PDX. Come on! You know I've sampled thousands of beers...today! Well, not really, but I went to a bottle share, so it was at least a dozen today. I drink A LOT of beer.

I've tried to be more efficient with my beer tracking, which has led me to download several smartphone applications meant specifically for that purpose. I almost always have my phone with me, snapping pictures of beers and posting them to Twitter and Instagram. It's kind of what I do. Please don't judge me.

I have an Android phone. I know, I know, the great Android v. iPhone debate goes on. Let me address that for a second. Androids are great for customization and I like to tweak things. My wife has an iPhone. I have to say her camera is far superior, but there isn't much she can do to make her phone look exactly like a foamy glass of beer. See above. There you go. We all have our priorities in life.

Since Android is my phone OS of choice, these app suggestions are going to be for that platform only. Sorry, iPhone folks, I only know what I know. If there are iPhone versions of these, I say try 'em out!

Probably the best beer tracker app around is Untappd. It has a seemingly endless database of beers. Users can also add new beers to the list on the fly. There are social media and gamification aspects of Untappd that makes it more than a database and a lot more fun. You can make friends with other users and post comments about each others' latest beer conquests. You can also earn "badges" for different accomplishments: number of beers consumed, different beer styles tried, places, brands, country of origin, etc.

With a focus on social media and gamification, Untappd is
the most popular beer tracking app.

Untappd allows you to "check-in", rate the beer, snap a photo of the beer, follow your favorite breweries, document your specific location and much more. There is a wishlist function and the app even utilizes your phone's GPS and Foursquare to figure out exactly where your imbibing. I've found Untappd to be a little buggy on occasion. Sometimes it crashes right in the middle of a check-in. However, it is usually very reliable. Click HERE to find Untappd at the Google Play Store.

If all you're interested in is tracking and rating your beers, without all the friends and badges--we don't need no stinkin' badges--then you might want to check out the RateBeer app. You will find a huge database of craft beer and the ability to search locally for places to buy the beers your looking for via Google Maps. There's less social media focus and no game-like features on RateBeer, and that might be just the right fit for some folks. You will find in-depth information and reviews about individual beers and a great deal of statistical stuff--like the top 50 beers in every country, most popular beer styles, etc. You can bring up a beer's details by scanning its barcode, which is a cool feature. You can even find information about local beer events on this app. You can download RateBeer at the Google Play Store by clicking HERE.

RateBeer is jam-packed with so much information, it's
a beer geek's dream come true.

Want even fewer bells and whistles? Just the facts, ma'am? How about a plain Jane database application that will collect the most basic information about the beers you're tracking? Memento Database is a free database app (ad supported) that you can easily customize to track beer. It takes a little work to figure it out, but there are plenty of features that make it more than just an electronic tick sheet. Location via Google Maps, barcode scanning, a photo feature, and plenty of room for free-form notes make this a solid choice for the beer hound who wants to keep their tracking light and easy. I just downloaded this app and I only have one entry in the database so far, but I really like the simplicity. Of course, you can also create databases for many other uses with this handy app. Download Memento Database at the Google Play Store HERE.

Memento Database has very few frills but can keep track of
your beers quite handily. 

I only have one caveat about all of these apps, and that's to not overdo it. (There I go, up on my preachy box.) I'll be attending the Oregon Brewers Festival this upcoming week, starting on Wednesday, July 22nd. I WILL be bringing my phone with me for photos, but I WILL NOT be checking in any beers. I see so many beer lovers with their noses permanently glued to their screens that I can't help wondering if they even know where they are--surrounded by THOUSANDS of very interesting people and all kinds of fun! I admit that I'm as guilty as anyone when it comes to allowing my electronic devices to hog all of my attention, but I'm trying to moderate that a bit. My advice is that perhaps you should, too. Cheers!

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